Home News Plan for nuclear power station sparks intense reaction

Plan for nuclear power station sparks intense reaction

by Zahid Jadwat

Koeberg nuclear power plant in Cape Town, WC. [Picture: Eskom]


The government’s plan for a new nuclear power station to tackle the country’s energy shortages sparked intense reaction from several quarters this week. While some have defended the move, most argue it is simply old-fashioned.

“The window for nuclear has passed,” said energy expert Mohamed Madhi in an interview with Newzroom Afrika. He stressed that, while electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa looks at the nuclear option, the energy sector is “well on the road to much cheaper alternatives to nuclear”.

Earlier, the minister revealed to the Sunday Times that the plan to develop a 2.5GW nuclear power plant is pending the nod from the Treasury, which he hopes to secure by next month. SA’s only nuclear power plant, Koeberg, is located in Cape Town.


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Ramokgopa’s announcement that plans had reached an advanced stage sparked reaction in the energy sector.

Madhi said even in the most optimistic scenario, it would take at least two years before the project got going. “By that time, the renewable energy landscape, the alternatives that will be available to the country and the cost of those alternatives, will be far cheaper than what nuclear would be,” he said.

Also speaking to Newzroom Afrika, activist Peter Becker said nuclear energy “simply has no place in a modern energy market”. Echoing the concerns of his fellow panellist, he said: It is very capital intensive. It takes a long time before any benefit is accrued from beginning the process”.

But, unsurprisingly, Africa4Nuclear’s Princess Mthombeni welcomed the move. “It’s a good decision and we support it,” she said.

Commenting on criticism often levelled against nuclear power, she pointed to Koeberg.

“The benefit of Koeberg is that Koeberg started operating in 1984, so it’s almost 40 years and it has been operating safely. Koeberg is a paid off asset, which makes it a really valuable asset for South Africa, and currently … giving us the cheapest, cleanest electricity, which is another benefit.”

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